Tag Archives: learning

Know your goal

Is your goal really your own?

A question more people should ask themselves.

How often have you heard of people achieving their goal only to be left feeling unsatisfied or unfulfilled?

You’d be surprised to find out that it’s actually quite common.

There are many people who undergo certain tasks to achieve what they think they want, when in reality they’re achieving what they’ve been told they want.

A very common state of affairs.

Have you ever honestly sat down and thought about why you’re doing what you’re doing?

I’d be surprised if you had, pleasantly surprised.

Knowing the underlying reasons is key to long term success and sustainability.

That said, it’s not something people give much thought to.

Might be worth considering before you set your next goal.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Generation Idiot

Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Proof that being an idiot can have you winning at life.

Morning All,

The rise of reality TV has been amazing to watch of the subsequent years, however it’s lead to the breeding of a generation of idiots.

Deluded idiots at that.

Some people will be offended by that truth, oh well, be offended it’s your right after all.

This mentality has bleed in to the fitness industry as well.

So much so that there are two clearly defined camps:

– Evidence based people
– Everyone else (anecdote, instafamous etc)

Well, that’s have the former would have you see it.

It’s easy to see how and why people are getting confused about what to do for optimal results.

For the average person they’ve complicated fitness & nutrition beyond belief.

The evidence based lot often end up getting people to delve in to science they’re not interested in and lambaste anyone who doesn’t follow their view.

Everyone else will simply share the latest fad craze and tell people what they want to hear, regardless of if it is going to be useful to them.

Is is any wonder people are frustrated these days.

Where should people start?
Who’s should they listen to?
What are they meant to believe?

Three questions that have so many answers you couldn’t ever hope to know them all.

That said, here are three simple considerations for you, it’s your choice if you want to delve in to these more or not.

– Start by looking for the leading authorities in the filed you want to delve in to – evidence & anecdotally based.

– Next find people who have consistently grown in the field, not just in success, in their own education and views. If they have changed over they years that’s a good thing because it means they are searching for the truth and best possible answers for people, hopefully.

– You can believe what you want, however always question it or at least look for views to oppose your own beliefs so you can gain the broader perspective, don’t become dogmatic.

*Bonus – Always look to learn & question why, please also remember that there are some great people out there who give away a lot of great info for free, there’s always two sides to a coin, just try not to be on the same as the Kardashians and their ilk.

Take the above and do one the following:

– Apply it to your life
– Ignore it and move on

If what I’ve said is something you consider absolute bollocks, great, you don’t need to heed my words, that’s your choice.

However perhaps it’s struck a cord of intrigue, if so you should look in to it.

The power of free will & choice, use it wisely.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Becoming a Bear

The Russian Bear!
 
A simple yet sinister protocol.
 
Doing it you will achieve the following:
 
– Strength
– Lean mass gain (nutrition provided)
– Mental fortitude
– Movement skill (good form providing)
– A lesson in humility
 
This was something I found many years ago while reading the book Power to the People – Pavel Tsatsouline.
 
His protocol recommendation is picking two lifts to focus on and doing 2 sets of 5 (*1x5x100%, 1x5x90%),5 days per week, the workouts take 25-35min tops.
 
*It is suggested that you start off at 80% of your 5RM and add weight in a linear fashion, there’s no sense in going too hard too soon. Build up over time.
 
It’s a strength focused work ethic.
 
I’ve run it several times over the years and do more than two moves, putting in squats, chins and so on. I found 5 lifts was about right for me when done 5 days per week.
 
Over that time I also found that aiming for 10 total working reps was good as well. This allowed for my bodies natural ebb & flow.
 
Some days would be 2×5 as above, others would be 3×3, some 4-3-2-1 or 5-3-2, it added some variety.
 
However all in the name of maintaining and/or increasing strength while I trained for other things (combative sports).
 
If your goal is pure strength, give that a go, however if you want or need to add some serious slabs of muscle and overall weight to your frame then the Russian Bear is for you.
 
Here’s how it works:
 
Pick two lifts – my recommendations are the Deadlift & Military Press.
 
Why?
 
They are both test of strength where you need to overcome the initial inertia to get the weight moving, not to mention you can pause each rep at the bottom of the lift for even more strength progress.
 
Once you pick your two lifts to focus on you do the following:
 
– 2×5: 1x5x100%, 1x5x90%
– As many set as possible of 5×80% of first set of 5.
– Aim to hit 15-25 total back off sets
– Rest 30-90 seconds per set
– Always have 1-2 reps in the tank, don;t go to absolute fail
– When form starts to go, stop
– Train 3x per week
 
The benefit of this style of protocol is in it’s massive amount of volume.
 
It seems easy on paper, don’t be fooled though.
 
Once you hit the top end back off sets (25), you could change the lifts or increase the weight – I recommend a deload or week off before starting it again though.
 
You might be tempted to do all 3 days per week using this protocol for both lifts, you can however it’s potentially not smart.
 
Here is my recommendation for it:
 
Day 1 – Deadlift 2×5 (PTTP style), Press 2×5+AMSAPx80%
 
Day 2 – Press 2×5 (PTTP style), DL 2×5+AMSAPx80%
 
Day 3 – Deadlift 2×5 (PTTP style), Press 2×5+AMSAPx80%
 
This will be more than enough for most people.
 
Should take between 45-90min to complete
 
Over time you can build up by adding weight and sticking with the above suggestion or start doing bear deadlifts 2xper week.
 
Day 1 – Deadlift 2×5+AMSAPx80%, Press 2×5+AMSAPx80%
 
Day 2 – Press 2×5 (PTTP style), DL 2×5 (PTTP style)
 
Day 3 – Deadlift 2×5+AMSAPx80%, Press 2×5+AMSAPx80%
 
Eventually working to all three days being volume ones.
 
^^ If you did that I’d be tempted to stick with the same loading, not gospel, just sensible. The first option is preferable as once you hit the max back off work you can increase the overall load.
 
Many will not like this due to it only having two lifts, adding in one extra accessory lift for some token reps isa acceptable, however it’s up to you.
 
Just something to consider.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Specialise much?

A short post on specialisation.
 
It’s all about picking something you want to focus on.
 
If you are looking at your gym lifts for example, here’d be some sensible guidelines for the average gym goer.
 
If lifting related:
 
– Pick 1-2 lifts to focus on
– Increase the frequency: 2-3+ times per week
– Use the appropriate loading/rep schemes for the goal
– Set other training at a maintenance level
– Watch out for interference from other exercises
– Set a clear goal
 
If body part or aesthetically related:
– Pick one lagging body part
– Increase the frequency: 2-3 times per week
– Use the appropriate loading/rep schemes for the goal
– Set other training at a maintenance level
– Watch out for interference from other exercises
– Set a clear goal
 
As you can see the guidelines are essentially the same because it’s just common sense.
 
One thing people do when they specialise is to pick multiple things at once, often those things interfere with each other and little to no overall progress is made.
 
Sadly you can’t excel at everything at the same time.
 
If you try to be good at everything you end up being average.
 
It’s not uncommon for people to want to increase strength & cardiovascular performance in tandem, now if correctly planned it’s possible, however most people get it very wrong.
 
Training for multiple goals that may have some conflicting factors – energy system usage, global fatigue etc, is an art and this process is called concurrent training.
 
We won’t be covering that today.
 
This is a large topic to cover, as such here are some good places to start:
 
 
 
 
So some thing to consider if you want to bring up something that’s lagging.
 
If you want to focus on making something better, limit what you want to focus on.
 
You won’t lose your other gains if you set other training at a decent maintenance level.
 
Enjoy,
Ross 

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Break your pattern

7 day weeks are overrated.
 
Especially for training.
 
Morning All,
 
When it comes to frequency of training we know that we should be hitting each muscle group or movement at least twice per week.
 
You can also look at this from the standpoint of hitting the muscle or movement every 3-5 days.
 
Most people do this by running on a 7day week, which is fair enough, most people have lives after all.
 
That said, there is a more interesting way.
 
Our body is a clever thing, it will begin to remember the pattern we adopt and as such we may unknowingly sabotage our progress.
 
Have you ever though about a rolling routine for your training?
 
Now if you have no training restrictions and can train on any day then a simple 4 day split of; Pull-Push-Legs-Rest-Repeat will work very well.
 
If you are constrained to the 7 day week fear not, you can still utilise a rolling training program while hitting the optimal frequency of every 3-5 days (2 exposures in a 7 day period), you just won’t train the same workout each time.
 
Say you have only 4 days a week to train:
 
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday
 
If you use the split above it might look like this:
 
Pull, Push, Legs, Pull – Week 1
Push, Legs, Pull, Push – Week 2
Legs, Pull, Push, Legs – Week 3
 
You can see it’s a three week rotation and you’re hitting each muscle every 3-5days while also not doing them on the same day of the week, meaning some extra mental stimulation as well.
 
You also have to factor in exercise crossover.
 
^^ Deadlift & squat for example, both hit the legs and posterior chain. Perhaps you have get ups as a warm up & prowler on Leg day as a finisher, these also hit the upper body isometrically, make sense?
 
As you can see there is no lack of logical structure here.
 
Something what would be very useful is perhaps having 3 distinct workout options (think same but different), so that each 3 day block of training hits the same muscle/movement actions just with different variations of the same exercises.
 
Then you’d set yourself the task of doing each 3 day mini cycle 6-8 times, progressing by a doing weight, sets or reps as needed.
 
That would mean you have a solid program that will last anywhere from 18-24 weeks.
 
Talk about forward planing for long term gains.
 
Here is an example of different movements you may use (I will give you 3 main lifts & variations per day) –
 
Pull –
Deadlift
Deficit Snatch Grip Deadlift
Block Pull
 
Push –
Standard Grip Bench Press
Close Grip Bench Press
Incline Press
 
Legs –
Squat
Front Squat
Hack Squat
 
This is with the main lift, I’d then advise perhaps 2-3 accessory lifts, erring on the side of 2 as over the years I’ve found less is more.
 
Guess what, you can also have different options for each of the accessory movements as well, talk about variety planned in to a specific goal.
 
Now this might seem like a lot of effort, however it works, it works well to be honest, it works best when combined with optimal nutrition (calories set accordingly of your goal).
 
Give it some thought, if you can’t cray it yourself feel free to ask for some help on here.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A question for you

Have you made progress?
 
Honestly?
 
Like any at all?
 
Have you
 
– Gotten stronger
– Improved VO2 Max
– Gotten leaner
– Added LBM
– Ranked higher in your sport
 
I would trust that you have rather than simply spinning your wheels.
 
What was it Warren Buffett said –
 
“It’s nice having a lot $$$ but don’t keep it around forever. Otherwise it’s like saving sex for old age.
 
I feel a lot of people do this in their lives.
 
They aim to accumulate points over time and then expect something marvellous to happen.
 
Many put off the gym and pledge to do more later on, it never happens. They never make the change they need.
 
They remain the same.
 
Are you one of these people?
 
Give it some thought.
 
If you haven’t made progress in a while it might be time to make a change.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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5 exercises you’re not doing that will change your life.

 
In the modern age the mentality of training is heavily influenced by body building.
 
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about this, however not everyone wants to be one, some want strength, others want performance and a few just want to move better and enjoy life.
 
Give the influence of BB’ing most peoples training is constructed around open chain isolation exercises.
 
Again, nothing wrong with this, however there’s so much you than you know.
 
The 5 movements below will literally change your life in the following ways:
 
– Add slabs of lean muscle
– Build strength
– Increase mental fortitude
– Strip fat
– Improve movement patters (mobility, flexibility etc)
 
Be prepared, chances are you don’t do these at all.
 
1 – Clean & Press
 
2 – Turkish Get up
 
3 – Loaded carry (farmer walk, bear hug, overhead hold, sled drag, prowler push)
 
4 – Rope climbing (or climbing in general)
 
5 – Front Squats
 
Why these 5?
 
Apart from he fact people don’t really do them I will list some benefits in correlation with their number:
 
1 – Explosive power & strength
2 – Full body coordination, improved ROM, stability, strength
3 – Conditioning (strip fat), strength, stability, mental toughness, power
4 – Helps you climb trees to get down your kite
5 – Strength, stability, ROM, posture
 
Now there is one movement that you may feel also needs to be in there and I’d agree, the deadlift should be in there as well.
 
6 – Deadlift – snatch grip variation especially :3
 
You’d be surprised the body you could build doing those exercises, however many of you won’t because they don’t fall in to the norm and fit the status quo, shame.
 
If you’re one of those who has the courage to brea away from the norm here’s a protocol you can use to make that change you’ve been looking for –
 
*Number to correlate*
 
– 5-25 total reps per movement (1,2,5,6)
– 80% + 1RM loading
– 10-20min total distance covered (3/4)
– Train 2-5 times per week
– Session length 45min tops
– Track everything and aim to progress where you can
 
Seems simple, however you have your movements, you can choose to do them with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, odd objects and much more.
 
Just aim to break the norm if you really want to get some results.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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4 techniques to getting stronger.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be considered strong.
 
Being strong is awesome.
 
It makes you more robust, improves your health*, changes your quality of life and above all else it looks pretty bad ass.
*Provided your nutrition and overall lifestyle isn’t self destructive.
 
Strength is a funny thing.
 
You’re either strong or you’re not and to what degree of strength you have simply boils down to wha you need it for, after all, strength is simply the ability to perform a given task much like fitness.
 
So how strong s hold you be?
 
As strong as YOU need is the answer.
 
Okay, enough philosophical thoughts.
 
Time for some techniques.
 
1 – Paused Reps
 
A classic that is still relevant to this day.
 
It’s great for helping you generate and more importantly hold tension in a lift, plus it will get you over sticking points.
 
You simply pause your rep in one or more locations throughout the lifts ROM, it’s that easy.
 
Most will pause at the hardest part of the ROM, in a squat this would be at the bottom as coming out of the hole is hardest for most people.
 
For a deadlift you may choose to pause mid shin, then continue the lift.
 
My recommendation is to do anywhere up to 25-30 total reps for this style of training, that could mean 5×5 or 12×2, perhaps only 3×3 or 4×4, you pick your poison.
 
2 – Singles
 
Another classic, however there’s a slight twist.
 
Again you’d do well to limit the total reps to around 25-30, however here is how you might set it out:
 
– 1 lift per workout for this protocol
– 80-90% 1RM load on the bar
– Perform 1 rep on the minute every minute (EMOM)
– Stick with a load % until you can hit all 30 reps, then incase load of change the lift variation
 
The idea of this is to build volume at a decent intensity level, having to start each rep will help you groove the form and the skill of the lift.
 
My favourites for this are the Deadlift and Presses.
 
3 – Speed Work
 
Increasing your rate of force development (RFD) will help you get stronger as you’ll find you may already have the base strength needed to make a lift, however you’re just too slow.
 
Dave Tate speaks about this at length at Elite FTS, check out his work, it’s mind-blowing stuff as he is crazy smart.
 
Back on topic, speed work.
 
You take 50-65% of your max and perform sets of reps as explosively as possible (ensure good form).
 
You’ll find the 25-30 rep total is again a good bench mark to go for.
 
Concentrate on making each rep as crisp and fast as possible, you will also be limiting your rest, top end being 60 seconds, no more.
 
This method is great for not only boosting RFD but also getting in a good amount of volume in a short space of time.
 
You may think that this won’t help you get strong, it will, trust me. Most strong people are actually pretty fast, just watch any world record lifts and you’ll find the majority look effortlessly fast for the most part.
 
4 – Eccentrics
 
Yet again another tried and tested method.
 
Loading up an exercises will over your max with 110-130% of 1RM and lowering it as slowly as possible is great for helping you break through plateaus.
 
Due to the highly demanding nature of these lifts I’d advise most people to make sure they have spotters and aim for 3-5 sets of 1-3 reps, limiting this rep total to 15 as it can be quite taxing.
 
You will also do well to use this method for 2-3 weeks tops.
 
Doing them it never seems like much, however if you’re using 130% of your max I can tell you it is soul destroying, don’t fall victim to your ego on this, especially with compound lifts.
 
This is great for Chins, Dips, Curls and other such exercises, I’d be a tad weary of doing it with squats and DL unless you’re a very accomplished lifter.
 
There you have it.
 
4 simple techniques that have all been proven to work.
 
Use one method at a time, don’t be a hero and try to do more than one or combine them because you will snap your self up.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Training Hard or Training Smart?

Train smart not hard.

A classic line.

Let’s look at why training hard is training smart.

Morning All,

In the world of lifting it’s common for people to use the phrase ‘train mart not hard’ and it’s quite easy to see why this is said.

This isn’t going to be technical.

Just a simple way of looking at it all.

Before we go on here is what people typically think about hard/smart training.

Training Hard:

– Lifting Heavy
– A lot of volume
– Keeping everything on the nerve
– Toughening up & pushing past old limits to force adaptation

Training Smart:

– Having a solid plan of progression
– Knowing your periods of pushing & backing off
– Listening to ones body
– Training specifically for the goal

Okay, if you look at both the concepts and how they’re typically perceived, you will see there is some similarities.

A lot of similarities.

You often find people who just preach ‘train hard’ are all about intensity.

Those who say ‘train smart’ are all about the planning.

The fact is that training hard is training smart because you can’t have one without the other.

If you have the right plan with no intensity it doesn’t matter how good it is, you won’t progress because you’re not putting in any real graft.

The same is true for aimlessly lifting heavy things and killing yourself without a plan, you just end up spinning your wheels, burning out and getting hurt.

So you see you can’t have one without the other.

Here is what Smart & Hard Training looks like:

– Planned accumulation, intensification, reduction periods
– Overall progressive overload/fatigue management
– Pushing each session and hitting all the numbers
– Listening to the body and doing more if the day feels good, less if it doesn’t

Does your training look like one or the other?

To get the most optimal progress possible you need to not only train hard, you need to train smart as well, they’re intrinsically linked after all.

Enjoy,
Ross

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1-2-3 for you & me

Progress, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.
 
An old school method for strength & lean mass.
 
Morning All,
 
You may have guessed that I enjoy things from yesteryear.
 
For good reason too, I might add.
 
Everything that worked back then still works today, in fact it’s usually more effective than what most people do these days.
 
You will find many a person runs to a fitness magazine, or some form of social media for a workout routine, which is fair enough, if something is free you’d be silly not to use it.
 
The only issue is that while the info might be good, the people using it only apply around 50% effort, especially when the weights get heavy.
 
This is bad… very bad.
 
Low effort means low results.
 
This is where for those of you who are a little more focused 1-2-3 will be something you enjoy.
 
Here is what to do:
 
– Pick an exercise or two (A1/A2 fashion)
– Put some weight on the bar, say 80% of your max
– Do 1 rep, rest a little, do 2 reps, rest a little, do 3 reps, rest longer
– Add weight after each successful 1-2-3
– Do 3-5 sets
 
 
You’d be surprised how this rest pause style of protocol allows you to lift heavier than normal and get in some decent volume too.
 
You’ll find that this style of protocol is are more sustainable than a standard 5×5 with repeating weight as you can manage fatigue levels far better while still lifting heavy-ish.
 
In between each of the prescribed reps you could rest 15-30 seconds, just enough to allow you to get the next reps easily while still lifting heavy.
 
Rest 2-5min after each full set.
 
After you’ve done your reps/sets you can finish off with some loaded carries and perhaps some isolation work for weak points, or for vanity reasons, your choice.
 
This is so easy to apply you’ll probably ignore it.
 
You can use 3 week rotations before adding more total load to the bar if you choose, it will look like this:
 
Week 1: 3×1-2-3×80%
Week 2: 4×1-2-3×80%
Week 3: 5×1-2-3×80%
Week 4: 3×1-2-3×82%
And so on.
 
I’ve it a try and watch your strength, lean mass, skill in the lift and enjoyment of training soar through the roof.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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